How landlords can improve their chances in a disputeMake Text Bigger
The Tenant Deposit Scheme recently released shocking figures showing that only 19 per cent of disputes over tenants’ deposits are won by landlords. This statistic could be vastly improved if landlords better protected themselves at the start, during, and at the end of a tenancy agreement, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Some landlords fail to put a letting contract in place, or they have very unfair clauses in the contract. Other landlords don’t conduct an adequate check-in and check-out, or don’t keep copies of correspondence with the tenant which could be evidence in a dispute.
Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC, said: “It is so important for landlords to ensure they get all the paperwork right at the start and at the end of a new tenancy agreement. Over and over again, we see landlords losing disputes because they can’t provide the right evidence to show that a tenant has damaged the property.
“Aside from ensuring there is a fair contract in place at the start of a tenancy agreement, landlords should have a thorough and detailed inventory which will enable both parties to be treated fairly and reasonably. By opening a dialogue and using an independent inventory clerk, disputes can be resolved quicker and without the hassle that is often experienced at the end of a tenancy period.”
The AIIC has outlined some guidelines below to help landlords improve their chances in a potential dispute:
- Don’t compile your own inventory, leave it to the professionals. Detail is vital – fine detail even better. Take dated photographs of the garden; interior of the shed or garage; inside of the oven; and keys handed over to tenants – these are the main areas of problems that occur and are often down to misinterpretation at the end of a tenancy. Remember, you don’t need photos of every single corner of the property, these are frankly a waste of time and effort (and would be impossible to do) – stick to the important things. Don’t try to produce a completely photographic or filmed inventory without a complete written accompanying inventory. Films and photographs alone will be of little use in a dispute when an adjudicator is trying to find hard evidence of a particular area. You can bet the problem in question just won’t be something you have photographed in the first place!
- Make sure your property is fit for letting – on check-in day the place should be completely clean and any garden areas should be tidy, lawns cut, borders weeded etc. If you don’t start correctly then things definitely won’t improve by check-out day/end of tenancy and you’ll end up with a very tatty property which won’t be let easily. Tenants cannot be charged for improvements – for making good/cleaning things that were wrong at the start and are still wrong at the end of the tenancy.
- Have a full check-in – where you or the inventory clerk check through every line of the inventory. Add any amendments needed and then ensure that the tenant signs their agreement at the end. When moving out day comes try to make sure that the tenant is present at the check out and make sure all the problems are explained – nasty surprises later will cause certain disputes.
- Always try to keep good communication ongoing with your tenants and encourage them to report any problems as and when they occur during the tenancy. This ensures that your property will keep in as good a condition as possible, and that their negligence will not cause more serious problems and expense for both you and the tenants.
The AIIC is a not for profit membership organisation and is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process. The AIIC works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.
For further information, please visit www.theaiic.co.uk.
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